An item in Thursday's Finance column in the Business...


September 16, 1993|By David Conn | David Conn,Staff Writer

An item in Thursday's Finance column in the Business section mischaracterized the commissions from securities trading that Alex. Brown Inc. brokers are generating. The average $500,000 in commissions referred to the annual commissions the brokers were earning for the firm, not for themselves.

Top investment firms enjoy 'very good year'

When leaders of Baltimore's three top investment firms gathered in a Stouffer hotel dining room last week for their annual press briefing, the room positively glowed. For James S. Riepe, managing director of T. Rowe Price Associates Inc.; Edward A. Taber III, executive vice president of Legg Mason Inc.; and Mayo A. Shattuck III, president of Alex. Brown Inc., the present is so bright, they gotta wear shades.

The three firms' combined revenues are headed toward $1.2 billion this year, up 20 percent from last year. Alex. Brown's brokers are each pulling in more than $500,000 a year in commissions, up from $465,000 last year. Legg Mason is well on the way toward its goal of earning 25 percent of its revenues from fees, rather than commissions.


And as Mr. Riepe of T. Rowe put it, "It's been a very good year, and one hopes that it'll continue at least till the end of my career."

Still, even these guys need something to worry about. Tops on the list:

* The stock market. Mr. Taber pointed out that while there's still strong nationwide demand, "the traders are getting more and more worried [about a correction], less and less prone to carry large retail inventories. . . . It certainly makes for interesting times."

* The municipal bond market. Maryland tax-free bonds, in particular, have been in tremendous demand, prompting new mutual funds from more than a dozen competitors. Mr. Riepe acknowledged questions about the ability of the state and localities to meet that demand. "At some point I think there will be a problem with supply," he said.

* The banks. Tired of watching their customers defect to the brokerage and mutual fund firms, banks are fighting back by selling just about everything offered by their nonbank competitors. Nonetheless, Mr. Shattuck insisted "we're not scared of that phenomenon ultimately."

Maryland featured in NationsBank ads

There was no question Marylanders would be hearing from NationsBank Corp. when the Charlotte company came to town full force by completing its acquisition of MNC Financial Inc.

But few would have guessed that the rest of the nation would hear about Maryland, thanks to NationsBank. The company this week launched TV commercials featuring Annapolis and other localities in its nine-state area.

The four commercials, created by the bank's advertising agency, Temerlin McClain of Dallas, feature narration by actor James Coburn. The Annapolis commercial highlights the Naval Academy, life along the Chesapeake Bay and a NationsBank customer, Coastal Properties. Each of the commercials includes a variety of employees and customers, the company said.

Other communities in the initial round of commercials are Sarasota, Fla., Abbeville, S.C., and Fort Worth, Texas. More commercials will come, and outdoor billboards showing a NationsBank sign and the name of the community will support them.

In an unrelated matter, NationsBank yesterday was named one of the nation's top 10 companies by Working Mother magazine, and Chairman Hugh McColl was named the magazine's "Family Champion." Working Mother honored the company for its

parental leave policy, flexible schedules, child care subsidies and dependent care and referral programs. Also named to the list from Maryland were the Marriott Corp. and the Calvert Group Ltd., both based in Bethesda.

Former SECU chief backed for U.S. post

A quiet campaign is being conducted by the Friends of Bill -- Bill Griffin, that is, the former president of the $640 million State Employees Credit Union.

Mr. Griffin and his supporters within Maryland's credit union industry are lobbying to have him appointed chairman of the National Credit Union Administration, regulator for some 13,000 federal credit unions and the industry's insurer.

"We've met with all the Maryland congressional delegation" to put a pitch in for Mr. Griffin, said Tom Gallagher, spokesman for the Maryland Credit Union League. "I think he has as good a shot as anybody."

Mr. Griffin, 50, left his post at SECU in April following disagreements with his board of directors. His reign, since 1987, was marked not only by steady growth in the credit union's assets and deposits, but also by allegations of racial insensitivity.

Mr. Gallagher said he didn't think those issues would be a problem for Mr. Griffin, who also served as Maryland's top savings and loan regulator after the state's 1985 thrift crisis.

For his part, Mr. Griffin acknowledged that he been notified by the White House that he's being considered to replace chairman Roger Jepsen, whose term ended Sept. 1.

Crawford will head regional RTC board

Speaking of federal chairmanships, Edwin S. Crawford, a senior vice president of Ferris, Baker, Watts Inc., last week was named chairman of one of the regional advisory boards to the Resolution Trust Corp.

The Region 2 board that Mr. Crawford will head for a two-year term is charged with advising the RTC on issues relating to the disposition of real estate from failed thrifts and with providing advice on affordable housing issues.

An expert in municipal finance and asset securitization, Mr. Crawford's new position also places him on the federal National Advisory Board to the RTC and the National Housing Advisory Board.

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